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Ex-Tribune political writer Bill Martin was 90

Monday, January 9, 2012

Gayle Montgomery’s obit today for longtime Oakland Tribune political writer and City Hall reporter Bill Martin, who died Christmas Day just short of his 90th birthday, provides a glimpse of the Tribune from a bygone era. Martin, a serious newsman but with a sense of humor, left the Trib in 1977 after the Knowland family sold the paper, not long after covering Jerry Brown’s first presidential campaign. An excerpt:

One time in 1974, Tribune Publisher Joe Knowland declared a "funny hat day" for the paper's employees, and was outraged when only the managing editor, Steve Still, had anything on his head in the fourth-floor newsroom.

The same day, the Tribune's editorial board was scheduled to interview a young University of California woman who was running as a Socialist for Congress. Martin showed up at the interview wearing a San Francisco 49er helmet, complete with a face guard, which he had borrowed from the Ringside bar next door. The candidate became completely flustered and left when Martin tried to light a cigarette through the helmet face guard.

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